Some CJ-3Bs carry various numbers stamped into the frame, which appear to be related to the serial number (VIN) as well as perhaps to parts identification.
Reed Cary summarizes what we (don't) know, in a posting on the CWML e-mail list: "Sometime after the Kaiser aquisition of Willys-Overland (and perhaps after the using up of W-O frames) some CJ-3B frames were stamped. The reasons why, when, etc. are still shrouded in history." (Note that stampings are also found on some CJ-3Bs as early as 1954. -- Derek)
"In view that W-O discontinued offering stamped frames when they brought frame manufacture in-house from an outside vendor, the reverse might conceivably have occured at some time early in the Kaiser take-over period; that is to say, the frames were out-sourced and therefore stamped, for some shorter period of time.
"The date of the assembly of out-sourced components was scribed on them, usually. You can, for example, read the assembly dates of your differentials; in the case of the W-O models the assembly date was scribed in several places within the differential, notably at the rear side of the ring gear.
"And although this won't tell you which "year model" you have -- as even those were juggled around to suit sales, with new tags offered from the factory to the dealers (at least in W-O times) -- it will offer an indication of the time frame of your vehicle. Restorers, generally, consider that the axles are pretty good indicators of a Jeep's dates, figuring that they are likely the last to be swapped out."
Stephen Heape has found what seems to be a very complete set of numbers on his thoroughly sandblasted 1962 frame. He has taken detail photos (50K JPEGs) and describes their locations: "My '62 CJ-3B has '176R' stamped just behind the bumper mount on the right frame rail. Mine also has the number '176L' stamped in the same area of the left rail. These numbers must correspond with the part number for the two frame rails during frame assembly."
"The next number is '7 D 25' located just in front of the first protruding body mount on the right frame rail." (The significance of this number is unknown. Other examples with different digits are described below.)
"The last five digits of my Jeep's serial number (87800) occur in two places on my frame. First, it is stamped about 6 inches behind the rear mounting point of the battery tray. The other place that the number is stamped is just in front of the rear cross member on the top of the right frame rail."
Rob Tate reports that on his 1956 CJ-3B, the last five digits of the VIN 57348 26812 are "stamped on the frame above the hanger for the rear spring (actually about four inches in front of it). They are also stamped directly above the rear hanger for the front spring. Both on the passenger side."
Mike Tollett with 1961 VIN 57348 80225 says the same thing: "During my frame cleaning I found the last five numbers of my serial number on the frame, on the passenger side on top of the frame up near the front axle and at the rear behind the axle."
So near the rear of the right frame rail is another place to look for the serial number on a CJ-3B, in addition to the more commonly-found location shown below.
This photo of Jamie Carter's frame indicates the location of the stamped numbers shown in the photographs below. They are visible with body on or off, just in front of the edge of the body tub (toe gusset).
VIN 57348 66510
Five stamped numbers approx. 3/8" high. The numbers are close, but not identical, to the last five digits of the VIN. Photo by Jamie Carter.
Dirk Thiermann's Jeep in Chile is registered as a 1962 and has a frame stamping consistent with a 1962 VIN of 57348 87408. An interesting feature of this stamping is the 9 in the middle, overstamped with a 4.
VIN 454GB2 28240
Rus Curtis says, "These are the numbers from my '54 CJ-3B. There was enough crud on the frame that I had toget it blasted before I could easily read the numbers." See also the matching VIN plate on the body (40K JPEG).
This Jeep is registered as a 1958 and has an engine number consistent with 1958. A VIN similar to 57348 47140 would also be from 1958. Photo by Tony Yuma. See a photo showing a larger area (23K JPEG).
VIN 57348 40632
The last five digits of the VIN, lined up with the rear of the rear spring mount. Photo by Paul DuBois. See a photo showing a larger area (30K JPEG).
Nearby on the outside of the frame, just a little bit behind the rear spring mount, are the numbers "4 D 22" arranged in a triangular shape (30K JPEG).
VIN 57348 39368
Prefix of the VIN (used on most post-1955 CJ-3Bs). Photo by Paul DuBois. See a photo showing a larger area (40K JPEG) with the body lifted slightly off the frame, revealing no additional numbers before or after 57348.
On the outside of the frame, a few inches further back, are the numbers "1 D 14" arranged in a triangular shape (50K JPEG).
See also the outside of the same area on the frame of a 1963 CJ-3B, stamped 176R on the right side (40K JPEG) and 176L on the left. Photo by Adam Charnok.
Ryan O'Neill has no VIN plate for his Jeep, but says "the number on the top of the frame rail is 37854; on the side of the frame rail it has '11 D 16' in the triangle formation." (If 37854 is the serial number, this would be a 1957 model.)
Rene Rodas in Puerto Rico has a 1963 CJ-3B with the VIN on the frame about 18 inches from the battery tray, and the following numbers stamped on the frame in triangular shape: on the left 3, above 547, and on the right 12.
Kevin Gerckens says that on his 1962 CJ-3B, VIN 57348 93379, "I checked the frame for a stamp and found that the stamp matched the I.D. number."
Ed Wilson reports the five digits stamped on the frame of his 1954 Jeep are the same as the last five in the VIN on the body plate, 454GB2 37884. He did not find the three markings on the side of the frame, nor did he find numbers stamped in the top of the frame on his other 1954 CJ-3B which has an OB54-prefix serial number.
Robert C Connor, Jr. reports that on his 1954 CJ-3B, VIN 454GB2 35022, "frame number is also 35022, stamped very clearly."
VIN 454GB2 20348
Owner Larry Sayre says, "Engine number (left frame member -- stamped in) is 4J51990. I have looked for the numbers that are supposed to be stamped into the right frame member just behind the battery box but find nothing. I presume the engine number that was stamped into the engine block (front-top) must have been removed at some time during an operation called "decking" -- the number boss is there, it is just clean and shiny like it has been re-machined sometime since the block was manufactured. Perhaps that is when the number was re-stamped into the left frame member." (See a photo showing a larger area, 90K JPEG).
This is the only example we have seen so far where the engine number appears on the frame. The style of the digits is different from the presumably factory-stamped examples above, although the style of the factory stamps is not entirely consistent either.
Turk Sierras found this number on his early 1954 CJ-3B, below the driver's door. Possibly a military marking rather than a factory stamping?
Nidhin Kurian found this stamping "57348-CJ3B-79919-P" on the side (rather than the top) of the frame rail on his 1961 CJ-3B in India. It's not clear whether this unusual stamping was done by Willys or by Mahindra when it was assembled.
Thanks to all the contributors. Additional information or photos are welcome. -- Derek Redmond
For more details on VIN's, see CJ-3B Serial Numbers and Production Figures.
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